Tester speaks on credit, autos, Gitmo
May 22, 2009
Tim Leeds Havre Daily News [email protected]
U.S. Sen. John Tester, D-Mont., spoke about several issues during a telephone press conference Thursday, ranging from credit cards to the closure of auto dealerships. Tester started the press conference discussing passage of a bill to change regulation of credit cards. “This is an exciting day in D.C.,” Te s t e r s a i d T h u r s d a y . “Tomorrow the president is going to sign into law the credit card bill I have been worki n g o n f o r months.” Tester said he h a s r e c e i v e d countless calls and letters from Montanans complaining about practices by credit card companies including changing rates and terms. He said he hopes the law will make it easier for consumers to use and understand credit cards. “Right now you need a magnifying glass and a Ph.D. in economics to understand what is on these cards,” he said. He also applauded the unanimous passage of a bill which includes several provisions he wrote to help health care for veterans in rural areas. “It took a lot of hard work and cooperation across state lines and party Lines,” he said, adding that he used comments from many Montana veterans in crafting the bill. “It also is common-sense legislation,” he added. Tester said he is concerned with closures of some car dealerships, including in Montana, in the reorganization of the auto industry following the federal bailout of the industry earlier this year. Tester said that if a dealership is losing money, it may make sense to close it. If it is closed just because it is in a small community, that does not, he said. “If you're going to let capitalism work you have to have competition,” he said. Tester also addressed some friction that has arisen between the Senate and the Obama administration, including a decision by the Senate not to fund moving the prisoners from the U . S . Ma r i n e B a s e a t Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, until a clear plan for the move is given by Obama. “I don't think that the money that was pulled out for Guantanamo was a mistake,” he said, adding that Obama has agreed that he did not have a plan, and one has to be in place. He also said he is continuing to work on helping to develop an energy plan. He said he is working on both sides of the aisle and with all branches of the government involved on the issue. “There are a lot of plans on the table. None of them have been implemented,” Tester said. “I don't know that you can blame the price of gas going up on the president yet you might be able to later on.” He said that it seems odd that while crude oil prices are remaining rather stable, the prices at the pump are going steadily up. That may require Senate hearings to see what is happening, Tester said. Part of the issue is to find ways to reduce dependence on oil, and help the environment while helping consumers deal with the increasing cost of energy, Tester said. He said he supports many of the programs that are planned, including research on battery technology and new ways to convert plant material to ethanol. Tester said he supports maximizing conventional and alternative energy in the country to end the United States's dependence on foreign oil. “I think, in the end, you're going to see some kind of climate change bill,” he said.